Background: GPs are often the first contact for injured children and hence play a crucial role in early identification and intervention of child abuse cases in the community.
Objectives: To investigate Hong Kong GPs' attitudes and behaviours towards child abuse reporting and their opinions on the introduction of a mandatory reporting system.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2006 among GPs who were attending or had attended a local postgraduate family medicine course.
Results: One hundred and seventy-one GPs participated in this study, among which only 8.9% received formal child abuse training. Only 35.8% of those GPs who had encountered suspected cases reported every case. GPs who considered reporting could produce more harm than good to the family or child, who concerned about maintaining anonymity and who were reluctant to get involved with legal system were less likely to make a report [odds ratio (OR) 0.21-0.27; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06-0.11, 0.67-0.86]. 'Concern on own anonymity' was the only significant independent predictor for reporting (OR 3.47; 95% CI 1.11-10.87). Despite the low satisfaction with the present reporting system, 67.3% would not support the introduction of a mandatory reporting system. Logistic regression showed previous training could predict supportive attitude towards mandatory reporting (OR 4.84, 95% CI 1.01-23.27).
Conclusions: This study shows low reporting behaviour among Hong Kong GPs. The major barriers to report are identified and can only be addressed by education and a carefully designed support system for GPs. Further research engaging a multidisciplinary approach is required to work towards an optimally beneficial system for the children.